Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Equipment for Nonviolent Struggle

We have only seventeen days until the inauguration of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States.  As I have written previously, it appears that Mr. Trump won the Presidency in a rigged election in which there was significant voter suppression, and in which recount efforts in some battleground states were either blocked by the Trump team or were so severely compromised that they are unreliable.  Mr. Trump campaigned on a platform that was morally repugnant to a majority not only of Americans, but of people throughout the world - especially in the Global South.

Those of us who are the intended targets of his agenda would do well, therefore, to prepare to struggle for the basic human right to live our lives in peace without being scapegoated or molested by imperialists, or white supremacists, or the most powerful members of the Global North, or the wealthiest members of our societies, or even of the dupes of these powerful people, many of whom are poor and are likely to be hurt by the very policies they have been brainwashed into supporting.  As I have said before, in order for the struggle to have maximum effectiveness, it must be nonviolent.

But some will ask, "Can nonviolent resistance actually succeed in this struggle?  Is it really effective?"   To answer that, I will refer you to a few videos and some audio books that you can chew on.  The first is from Dr. Erica Chenoweth of the University of Denver, who defines nonviolent resistance as "...a form of active conflict where unarmed civilians use a variety of nonviolent tactics like strikes, boycotts, protests, stay-aways, demonstrations, and other things, to try to effect political change without using violence or threatening to use physical violence against the opponent."

One of the great strengths of nonviolent struggle is that it is able to recruit a much larger portion of a nation's population than violent conflict.  Chenoweth shows that if the level of participation rises to between two and five percent, the nonviolent movement has at least a 50 percent chance of succeeding.  If the participation level is at five percent or above, the nonviolent struggle becomes almost unstoppable.  When we consider that the official November election results state that only 25 percent of all people of voting age in America voted for Trump, and that even that figure may be overly optimistic, finding five percent of the population that does not want to be molested by a Trump presidency should not be very hard.

Here also is a video of a talk by Jamila Raqib, in which she gives a few humorous, yet highly effective examples of successful nonviolent struggle:

(Disclaimer: although I don't agree with everything in this video, I do agree with her main point concerning the effectiveness of nonviolent struggle.)

There are also audio recordings of two books by Gene Sharp, which were provided by the kind volunteer readers at the Librivox website.  The books are From Dictatorship to Democracy and There Are Realistic Alternatives.  These books are also available in PDF form from the Albert Einstein Institution.  Mr. Sharp constantly stresses the need for comprehensive strategic planning in preparing a nonviolent struggle.  He outlines the need to focus on four planning levels: grand strategy, strategy, tactics and methods.

I hope that these materials may guide fellow resisters in planning a varied, multilevel resistance effort that uses multiple tactics for maximum effect.  One caution regarding social media: Erica Chenoweth makes the point that social media is a great tool in the hands of oppressive regimes, but that resisters should beware of relying overly much on it.

Good luck in your preparations!

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